Thursday, October 8, 2009

Please Don't Get My Hopes Up With Your Exclamation Marks

Why do they write to let you know they are currently reading your novel? Is it to get you excited and make you think that they wouldn't waste time writing you with the update unless they are loving the manuscript? Why do I always conclude that it means they are mere hours away from writing back with good, good news?  In the last two months, I've received three such perky little messages followed rejection or radio silence, as such:

1) Editor in June: I am reading now and will be able to weigh in very soon! Thanks for your patience--more soon!"  Three exclamation points.  Now that's just cruel in light of the fact that exactly nine days later, she wrote "Thanks for your patience...I'm sorry it's not for me!"

2) Agent yesterday: "I'm reading this now--I'm still on jury duty so it's a bit hectic--I'll be back to you next week."  This one was followed up one day later with, "It's a bit too offbeat for me."

3) Agent who has had the manuscript since August: "I'm still reading your novel, but will be in touch soon about it."  That message came on September 3rd....still no word.

Don't you think it would be better if they just waited to get to the end of the manuscript (or to the page they decide to stop on) and tell you no thanks?


Peter said...

I think it makes THEM feel better like they have bought themselves more time.

Separate question--if you are submitting a lit fic short story via an online submission form and it gives an optional place for "comments" with the submission, do you do a pseudo cover letter or just leave it blank???

Writer, Rejected said...

If you've got something juicy on your resume (a great publication, an award or two, an MFA from somewhere respected), I say why waste the opportunity? Definitely add it to the comments.

Travener said...

I'd rather hear that they're reading it, even if they come back later with a rejection. That way at least I know for sure they got it and that it hasn't fallen under the desk or something.

rmellis said...

This must be a new thing -- never got any kind of note or message like this when I was selling my book circa 2000. It's whatever compels people to phone from the airport, "I'm at the airport! Now I'm getting into a taxi!" How's about just knocking on my door when you get here?

Harlem's A Hatin said...

I love reading your blog. An award winning author, very cool!

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Overuse of exclamation marks! Rookie mistake! But at least they didn't use like three of them all together!!!

Anonymous said...

No, mustn't post any criticism of the work of rmellis. After all, she and her husband could be of help to you in your career.
Course, criticism of others by others is OK.
Her book was bad. Yet it got published. The point being: How? Why? Those questions are at the very heart of this rejection business.

Writer, Rejected said...

The comment above refers to a comment that I chose not to reject (rarely happens), rather than post. It was insulting in a personal way, and though RMellis, a regular around this blog, and/or her husband, have no sway over my career or life, and probably never will, I like and respect them. I've never read the book Anon is bashing (without any support or back up), but I do read RMellis' blog (WARD SIX), and find it to be intelligent and interesting. In truth, I wouldn't post anything that personally insults a regular reader, or that is just plain mean without being constructive, or funny, or something other than driven by ill will...I forget what it said in particular.

Anonymous said...

The comment that you "chose not to reject" (I think you made a Freudian slip) said, basically, exactly what the one above says! No more insulting in a personal way then the above one is. In fact, my adjectives regarding her book were milder that the one above ("bad").
Funny how some opinions are "bashing."
I did not intend to go into a detailed criticism of her book. I brought it up because I wanted to make a larger point.
Don't tell me you haven't read something and thought, "How the hell did this get published when my work goes begging?"